Cover Image: Race for Tomorrow

Race for Tomorrow

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Member Reviews

Excellent and very readable book, which sees the climate crisis through the lives and experience of real people around the world, so we can better understand the impact it is having and, perhaps, be motivated to bring about change both on a macro and micro level.
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Books about climate change can often be depressing to read, filled with heartbreaking and terrifying stories about the catastrophes haunting our planet’s future. Race for Tomorrow by Simon Mundy is not one of those books. Instead, this frequently uplifting book looks at the amazing projects currently taking place all over the world from Siberia to Bangladesh, Italy to Australia.

To write Race for Tomorrow, journalist Simon Mundy spent two years traveling to 26 countries meeting people on the “front lines of the climate crisis.” He met with a scientist building a home for genetically engineered mammoths, the team behind a fake meat startup in Israel, and the inventor of one of China’s most popular electric cars. All their stories are different, often coming from opposing viewpoints, but all of them are caught in the same global climate change war. The innovations covered range from the technologically advanced to the simple, and the legislation is not always as simple to enact as it might seem, but we’ll need every bit of it working together if we want to make a real difference.

One thing I found eye-opening in Race for Tomorrow was the way it presented different sides to many stories. Take, for example, the chapter based in Brazil. In this chapter, we meet two men: Awapy and Enzio. Awapy is a member of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, an indigenous tribe that calls the Amazon rainforest home. He has spent his life defending the land denoted by the Brazilian government as the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Territory from illegal clearing, moving on from the bows and arrows used by his father to more technological solutions such as using his cell phone to take pictures of illegal tree felling and sending them to the police, forcing them to take action. On the other side of the coin is Enzio. Living in the tiny town of Boca do Acre with virtually no prospects, the author catches up with Enzio when he is illegally burning a section of the Amazon to create a clearing for cattle grazing, the only option he has to make a living. Should he be doing it? No. But if you were in his shoes, then what’s a dozen fewer trees if the other option is starving? Stories like these throw into sharp contrast how difficult the fight against climate change will be. When there are options on the table, most people will pick the more environmentally friendly choice, but when poverty is forcing their hands, who will choose a lifestyle better for the planet and see their children starve?

Politics is another key factor in the fight against and something discussed in detail in Race for Tomorrow. A section that stood out to me looked at Greenland. Rising temperatures mean that more and more of the ground there is no longer frozen, opening it up for mining ventures unthinkable just a few decades ago, and all sorts of valuable deposits have already been uncovered. It’s this untapped treasure that caused Donald Trump to make comments about buying Greenland from Denmark, but for policymakers in Greenland itself—a country with a long-term ambition of independence—the mines are opening up new economic opportunities, and the possibility of gaining that long-sought independence through new self-sustainability through trade deals with countries like China and Russia that could change the global political landscape. Meanwhile, over in the Democratic Republic of Congo mining is causing other political challenges. Many of us would be horrified to learn that the cobalt in our electric car batteries was illegally mined and possibly by children. However, the book explores the reality of the situation on the ground with the government swooping in to take land rich in cobalt from local residents and sell it to international corporations, with rampant corruption ensuring none of the profits made it back to the people forced from the villages to make way for the mines. Some residents have fought back by maintaining illegal mines underneath their own homes so as to hold onto a slice of the wealth being generated beneath their feet, and who can blame them?

Race for Tomorrow is a fascinating book filled with equally fascinating people and stories. It’s the sort of book that you’ll be thinking about for a long time after you’ve read the final page and one you’ll find yourself sharing anecdotes from during casual conversations, “well did you know that the Ganges River dam might be responsible for increased rates of miscarriage in Bangladesh?” If you only read one book about climate change this year, make it this one.
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Climate change “will remain the biggest and most important story that I, or any journalist of my generation, will get the chance to cover” says Simon Mundy, environment and sustainability reporter for the Financial Times.

And cover it he has, from multiple angles, taking in 26 different countries across six continents. It’s the result of a two year journey to understand the effects of climate change, and the response to it. Chapters criss-cross the globe, from Siberia to the Solomon Islands, Bangladesh to Brazil. We get fleeting notes of travel writing, setting the scene, and then it’s over to relevant locals to relate their experiences or describe their ideas.

The book opens in places that are suffering the immediate impacts of climate breakdown. We meet communities in Nepal where the ice is melting, property developers in coastal Nigeria building behind sea walls, farmers struggling with locusts in Ethiopia, Chilean wine growers adapting to changing conditions. One of the most striking chapters describes a family caught by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and a survivor who made the connection between her personal loss and the work of the fossil fuel companies.

We also hear from those fighting back, and Mundy’s tour takes in renewable energy companies, pioneers of cultured meats, people developing new technologies or working out how to scale up their solutions. There are scientists and CEOs, and some impressive access to key people.

One thing I really liked about the book is that the author talks to both sides of critical local and global issues. The chapter from India opens in a high-tech lab working on genetically modified crops, and then Mundy talks to Vandana Shiva, who is committed to blocking that work. We meet electric car battery engineers, and cobalt miners in the Congo. The book doesn’t take sides. It just presents people’s perspectives on often very difficult situations where win-win outcomes are impossible.

There are similar books to Race for Tomorrow, but in terms of its scope, its ambition, and its commitment to tell all sides of the grand story of the climate crisis, I can’t think of a climate book that’s in quite the same league as this one.
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Interesting read looking at both the expansive impact of climate change and the innovative enterprises of those looking to make changes all over the world. Really well researched too. I found some bits difficult to follow if I’m being honest and this certainly isn’t a  quick read but having said that, I did enjoy it and would recommend to anyone with an interest in climate change. 
Weirdly hopeful given the subject matter!
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It took me an absolute age to read this book: not because it's not good (it is), but because of things going on in my own life and also because this book can be a LOT. 

Race for Tomorrow follows journalist Simon Mundy's journey across the world, exploring the people surviving climate change, and working to fight it. This truly is a global book, and I really enjoyed that: encompassing Siberia, the Congo, Chile, the USA, India, the Solomon Islands and many more countries and territories, Race for Tomorrow delves into a myriad of stories centring around the climate crisis, from people who have lost their families in floods, companies working on renewable energy systems, and entire communities that are at risk of disappearing thanks to the effects of climate change. You can understand why I found this a heavy read at times – like many people I'm sure, this is a topic that gives me a lot of anxiety and it's easier in many ways just to avoid it! But I think it's important to know and to read about, and I feel a lot more educated now. A lot more stressed, too, but also more knowledgeably hopeful – there really is some good stuff going on around the world, guys, it's not all bad! (Although it is pretty bad.)

At times I did feel like the sheer size of this project was a disservice to some of the topics covered, and there were obviously things I was less interested in – I cried at some of the human stories, but I always find my attention waning whenever I read about science. I loved the photos, though, and I do think that this is a book everyone should read. Thanks to HarperCollins for letting me read it!
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What a whirl. From Greenland to Svalbard, over to Siberia. Then Southeast Asia and Pacific islands. Venice. Over to Chile and don't forget your hat.

Everywhere the author went, he walked, talked and interviewed, bringing us a portrait of how ordinary people are coping or despairing in the face of climate change. Ice melts and one man gets rich from mammoth tusks while another loses his home and hunting grounds.
Coral bleaches and islands see seawater rise through the land, into decay.
Fires follow drought or droughts blight crops.
Floods from glacial ice lakes or from storm surges wash away homes and family members.
Corrupt governments stall irrigation schemes or steal disaster response aid.
Brazil expansively destroys rainforest where people reside and trees store carbon for centuries, and sows grass for cattle. Blockchain helps a beef factory see which meat is coming from legal sources.

Where will the people all live? How will they live? All the Bangladeshi rice farmers who can't grow rice on salty ground, and are not needed by new shrimp farms, don't have a way to make a living. After the herd beasts die from drought in the Horn of Africa, some rain brings hope; then locusts descend. Insurers try to find ways to enable farm investors to continue farming, while winemakers move experimental crops into previously inhospitable locations. Bangladesh, which deforested 90% of its land and consequently experienced famine, now gets a tree planting great wall under way. And up in Greenland, someone's mining titanium, now the shipping lanes are open four months of the year and counting.

"In the year before Joanna’s protest at its Manila office, Shell paid out more money to its shareholders than any other company in the world: $20 billion, comfortably beating second-placed Apple. Its chief executive Ben van Beurden earned over $62,000 a day. Such fantastic rewards were possible only because the full costs of Shell’s products were being shouldered by others, who would continue to bear them − along with people yet unborn − far into the future."

This excellent work of journalism, concluded during the pandemic, deserves a wide audience. In the e-book, links under key phrases provide references.
Note P283 - 332 in my e-ARC. No photos or graphs, but they may be yet to come in the final version. And they would be welcomed.
I read an e-ARC from Net Galley. This is an unbiased review.
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Race for Tomorrow is a great read about the efforts the human race is making to fix our planet before we utterly destroy it.  There was plenty of information about new scientific and technological advances which I wasn't aware of previously and this book took a long time for me to read and absorb because of the detail.

The book gives what feels like a realistic view of the progress of the fight against climate change.  Mundy doesn't sugarcoat the bad news but also leaves me with a feeling that it's possible to turn it around if there's the political will to do so.

A recommended read.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for honest feedback.
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Have not quite completed reading this splendid book as there is such a lot of information to digest but, as we are in the middle of COP26, I felt it more important to get something posted.

The information and experiences in this are very worthwhile considering as they point to serious problems. Whether they are caused by climate change or the natural cycle of our planet I am not qualified to say BUT, either way, we need to be very aware of the changes that are occurring and we all need to do what we can to mitigate them.

Read this book as it is fascinating, thought provoking and a call to do something significant, whichever side of the climate debate you are on.
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At a time when many nations are meeting in Glascow for the COP21 conference and our television screens  are full of the activities of Insulate Britian our awareness of the impact of climate change is just about as high as it is ever going to be. But for many people protesters on the one side and politicians on the other is less than engaging. A new approach is welcome and in Simon Mundy's Race for Tomorrow we get a completely different perspective. Simon Mundy's good idea is to get away from the statistics, speeches and demonstrations to bring an entirely human approach to the issue of climate change. He tells the story from the point of view of those at the sharp end, the people whose lives are being impacted now. In doing so he brings the issue alive and as we sympathise with the people struggling and starving, being washed away by floods or burnt out by wild fires and inevtably we begin to ask ourselves the question: these poor people today, could it be us tomorrow? We are bombarded with bad news relating to the health of the planet but this book vividly brings home the emergency we all face.
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I absolutely loved Race for Tomorrow by Simon Mundy. Well written, incredibly well researched, it's a book that connects the climate crisis to the life of people most impacted by it.
I devoured it in two sittings unable to stop reading Mundy's telling about the impact of global warming in Siberia, Tibet and Greenland. What I most admire of this book is that speaks about the people in a way that makes the abstract feels real and relevant. An absolutely must-read - 5 stars !!
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Race for Tomorrow by Simon Mundy is a great piece of work that not only shows the stark reality of climate change but also offers some hope for the future.
While politicians dither and manufacturers, consumers and utility companies worldwide are full of good intentions and moving slowly towards greater sustainability Global Warming is here ,now and affecting the lives of people worldwide.

Simon Mundy travelled all over the world talking to people whose environment is literally disappearing beneath their feet, their homes sinking into the sea and their livelihoods and cultures under attack as the world around them changes completely, by the hand of man or the forces of nature. He obviously cares for those he interviews and is  skilled at portraying those people so the reader feels that they have met them in person as well, which makes some of the events quite heartbreaking.

It's not all doom and gloom, Simon Mundy also tells of the massive investment and innovation into battling the effects of Climate Change,some of which seems almost in the realm of science fiction,growing meat and an underground city for example. What gives hope is that those pursuing and financing these are well-respected scientists and engineers backed by serious money from serious people ,highly-successful entrepreneurs and huge corporations.  

This is an excellent overview of the current state of the world right now,it hammers home the dire situation we're in,not least the developing countries who are suffering from the effects of over-consumption from richer nations. It does however  also offer hope and tells of the amazing new technologies being developed to at least help the world adapt to the ongoing change.

An important, and exceptional, book written in an accessible and interesting  way,
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An amazing book.  Tells the Climate Crisis how it is and gives hope for the future - if new technologies in the pipeline can be made soon enough.  We hear of melting glaciers - but where does the water go?  So many are very, very high up in mountains a long way from the sea.  What happens when underground ice melts in areas it's been in for millennia?  And that's only thee first few chapters.  I could go on  - so many questions, so much devastation, destruction and  so many possibilities to change it.

We can only hope, pray and support technologies that may save us all yet.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I read a free advance review copy of the book.  This review is voluntary, honest and my own opinion.
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